I recently wrote an article titled, "Why Gold Isn't Such a Great Investment" on Go Banking Rates. While my intention wasn't to bash gold investors, gold bulls certainly took it that way. I question if they even read the full article, or just reacted to the headline.

In any case, my point is that gold has been on such a run, any investor looking to get into gold had to seriously contemplate whether the investment was still attractive or if a pullback was coming.

Most novice investors believe gold is a great inflation hedge, but with prices soaring over 30% in the last year--most of the drivers coming from news regarding hyperinflation and economic turmoil--it's only logical to worry about some profit taking.

Could gold go higher? Most definitely. But it can just as easily dip. As I mentioned, I'm not a gold bear, just stating concerns that investors should look into if they're exploring the gold market.

In that case, here is a simple breakdown on ways to invest in gold.

BullionBars- You could invest in physical gold bars like many of the super rich are doing, but from a practical standpoint, it's not necessarily the smartest idea for most people. A standard bar weighs 400 troy ounces, at about $1330 an ounce, that's over half a million dollars per bar. You may literally have to protect it with your life.

Coins- Another way to own physical gold is by owning bullion coins. You'd have to protect these the same way you do with bars, most likely in a vault. Some investors prefer physical gold because it's 100% accurate in tracking the value of the precious metal. Also, in times of economic anarchy, it's actually worth it's weight in gold, unlike paper investments like ETFs and stocks. So there's that.

Stocks- If the physical route isn't for you, you could always look into gold exploration and mining companies. Keep in mind, these are examples of gold stocks, not recommendations. There are the large cap names like Barrick Gold Corp. (NYSE: ABX), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) and Newmont Mining Corp. (NYSE: NEM).

If you're more adventurous, you can try smaller names like Allied Nevada Gold Corp. (NYSE: ANV), Richmont Mines Inc. (RIC), and Nevsun Resources Ltd. (NYSE: NSU). But beware, the smaller the market cap, the higher the risk. And if you venture into the pennystock realm--especially in this sector--you could open yourself to vulnerability of fraud, just like what the SEC accused CHiP's Larry Wilcox of doing.

ETFs- Another way to go is to invest in gold ETFs. While it's not as accurate as owning physical gold, it does come pretty close. And compared to investing in individual gold stocks, ETFs provide investors a broader exposure, limiting downside risk, but also sometimes capping earning potential too. Some popular gold ETFs include the SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE: GLD), iShares Gold Trust (NYSE: IAU), Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX), and PowerShares DB Gold (NYSE: DGL). There are many other ETFs out there. Just like gold stocks, they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

There are also ETFs designed for trading gold like the ProShares Ultra Gold (NYSE: UGL) and ProShares UltraShort Gold (NYSE: GLL), which try to replicate twice the performance of buying or shorting gold.

What are your thoughts on gold? How are you playing the gold market?

Author's Bio: 

Henry Truc is a personal finance writer for www.GoBankingRates.com. He cut his teeth learning about balance sheets and income statements for publicly traded stocks and hopes to use those same principles to help readers in need with their own personal budgets. His work has appeared on Yahoo! Finance, Nasdaq.com, and many other publications. He has interviewed CEOs and Wall Street analysts, as well as investment fund managers and economists, but what warms his heart the most is explaining the dangers of paying only the minimum balance on credit card debt. It'll cost you more in the long run! His best friend is named CAGR, who taught him the undeniable power of interest on savings and CD accounts. He hopes to spread the word to any and all who will listen. If you have a problem; if no one else can help, and if you can find him... maybe you can ask him a question relating to personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @HenryTalksMoney.